The Mom Test by Rob Fitzpatrick. We know that we ought to talk to customers. Many of us even do talk to customers. But we still end up building stuff nobody buys. Isn’t that exactly what talking to people is meant to prevent? It turns out almost all of us are doing it wrong.
The advice that you “should talk to customers” is well-intentioned, but ultimately a bit unhelpful. It’s like the popular kid advising his nerdy friend to “just be cooler.” You still have to know how to actually do it.
People say you shouldn't ask your mom whether your business is a good idea. That’s technically true, but it misses the point. You shouldn't ask anyone whether your business is a good idea. At least not in those words. Your mom will lie to you the most, (because she loves you), but it’s a bad question and invites everyone to lie to you at least a little.
It’s not anyone else’s responsibility to show us the truth. It’s our responsibility to find it. We do that by asking good questions. The mom Test is a set of simple rules for crafting good questions that even your mom can’t lie to you about.
Here are 3 simple rules to help you. They are collectively called (drumroll) The Mom Test:
- Talk about their life instead of your idea
- Ask about specifics in the past instead of generics or opinions about the future
- Talk less and listen more.
The questions to ask are about your customers’ lives: their problems, cares, constraints, and goals. You humbly and honestly gather as much information about them as you can and then take your own visionary leap to a solution. Once you’ve taken the leap, you confirm that it’s correct through Commitment & Advancement.
Avoiding bad data
There are three types of bad data:
- Fluff (generics, hypotheticals, and the future)
Sometimes we invite the bad data ourselves by asking the wrong questions, but even when you try to follow The Mom Test, conversations still go off track. It could happen because you got excited and started pitching.